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  • Perpetual Geek Machine’s Top Thing of 2012 (and runners-up)

    Well. Another year in the rearview. Crazy. This year was pretty awesome for us, we hope you found more ups than downs in your own life. For the past week we’ve been running down our top 5 things of 2012 for each of us, as well as debated those lists to come to one singular item that we called Perpetual Geek Machine’s top 1 thing of the year.

    After the break you’ll find our favorite thing, as well as the runner-ups in no particular order. Please download and enjoy both part 1 and part 2 of our year end podcast, and check out the individual lists for each of us on the site now.

    Thanks for spending some time with us in 2012, and we look forward to the next trip around the sun ahead of us!

    Perpetual Geek Machine’s #1 Thing for 2012 is…

    Curiosity Mars Rover (as explained by Dan Zuccarelli)
    6 vehicle configurations, 76 pyrotechnic devices, half a million lines of code. Entry, Descent, Landing – The 7 minutes of terror. The shell slams into the atmosphere at 1600 degrees, deploying a supersonic parachute that can withstand 65k pounds of force. Once it’s slowed from 1000 to about 200, part of the module detaches and uses rockets to lower/stabilize.

    Then, the sky crane comes out to lower the rover 21 meters to the surface of Mars. As a final act so as not to run out of fuel and crash down on the just landed rover, the descent module fires up and away to land safely elsewhere. And this is all done automatically, since the signal takes so long to go from Earth to Mars.

    Watching it live on the web and scanning Twitter one late Sunday night may not have matched the awe of watching the 1st moon landing on TV, but it was a huge thrill. There was genuine excitement, and the elation on the faces of scientists was infectious. We put some of the smartest nerds into the same room together and look what they attempted. And it worked. IT’S WORKING.

    Science is Awesome.

    Cards Against Humanity (as explained by Nicole Kline)
    PAX East 2012 was another great weekend for me. It’s where I met the Perpetual Geek Machine crew, thanks to a little black box with the words “Cards Against Humanity” written across it. It was fate that brought us together, and since then, I’ve had an amazing year at PGM, and I’ve played Cards Against Humanity a heck of a lot. First, I printed up my own copy; then, I finally got a real set. I’ve seen so many great combinations, like “An Oedipus Complex” for “Kid tested: mother approved,” or the best haiku Anthony has ever made: “Kanye West/Eating the last known bison/Fancy Feast.” It’s brought outrageous hours of laughter and fun… and we haven’t even opened the holiday set yet.

    Journey (As explained by Rich Coonelly)
    In terms of video games, 2012 was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I was tremendously disappointed in big budget games like Mass Effect 3, and Assassin’s Creed III, but smaller, more independent developers really stood out in the crowd to me. Chief among them is Thatgamecompany’s Journey. Journey is game about a mysterious robed figure who sees a light coming out of a distant mountain, and he must travel through a desert and ancient ruins to get to his destiny. There are some plot points told through pre-rendered cut scenes, but nothing is clear except that you need to move closer to this mountain.

    One of the most brilliant things the developers of this game did was strip the story, characters, and setting to a bare minimum. By doing this, the waters don’t get muddied with a convoluted plot or the ghost of your clone brother living on through is reattached arm. It also allows the player to use their imagination to help push the mood and atmosphere of the game forward. Some of the best scary movies and thrillers do this by not showing the killer, and holding back. I think it was a brave creative decision to allow the gamer to fill the game with their own thoughts, and ideas. That’s not to say Journey doesn’t bring any of its own atmosphere to the table. Its moving score and themes play very well into setting the stage for one of the most emotional and triumphant endings I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

    Journey is one of the most perfect games I have ever played. I don’t know that it would play as well with a second play through, but I don’t think it was meant to be played again. It was a wonderful one-time experience and an absolute privilege to play. If you’ve ever tried to make an argument about video games as art, you’ll find compelling evidence with Journey, one of the best games I’ve ever played, and certainly the best of 2012.

    Wreck-It Ralph (as explained by Kevin Alexander)
    I was really, really worried that this movie was going to end up being something that tried to cram as many “typical” video game references in as possible. Luckily, we were treated to a great story that was set in a fabricated video game world that felt so alive that I never wanted the “game over” screen to ever appear.

    Doublefine Kickstarter (as explained by Dan Zuccarelli)
    I’ve never shied away from my love of the old school point and click adventure game, and my unabashed love for Tim Schafer of Double Fine games is something I’m quick to point out as often as I can. His time as Lucasarts helped turn out Secret of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Full Throttle… these are some of my favorite games of all time.

    While I love that Telltale Games was giving it the old college try in bringing back Sam and Max I had to admit to myself what I was afraid might be true, that the adventure games I loved so much just didn’t have a market anymore, that like a silent film maybe their time had simply passed. Maybe it was time to just forget about getting a well funded and well produced one into the marketplace. Hell, no publisher was willing to give adventure game maestro Schafer the financing to do it, then clearly the big-wigs know what’s what… right?

    In comes Kickstarter, and the ability for Double Fine and Schafer to speak directly to the fans that have been begging him to make an adventure game for YEARS. No company would believe in him and front the money, but maybe the fans could crowdsource enough to eek out a tiny game. He asked for 300k, the community responded with 3.3 million. Adventure games weren’t dead, and in addition an entire industry realized there’s another way to raise money to make games, and robbed the powers that be of a little of their power in the process.

    Runner-runner up:
    The Avengers (as explained by Adam Dickson)
    I liked or loved the movies that covered the origin stories for all the main characters, so I was very hopeful for The Avengers. When I heard Joss Whedon was going to write and direct this movie my expectations went through the roof. I am a huge fan of his original works. Put him to work in a universe of characters and history I already love and there was little chance I wasn’t going to love it. Like it or not, comic book movies have a certain stereotype. The Nolan directed Batman series of movies took them in a different direction, but The Avengers embraced the fun parts of the stereotype.

    Funny dialogue, action sequences where you could tell what was happening and… who the hell am I kidding, this movie had the freaking Hulk rag-dolling a ‘God’. They could have showed that scene fist and I would have been perfectly happy to get up and walk out. Certainly this movie is never going to appear on an AFI list, but it was the most fun I had at the movies all year.


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